We continue to enjoy our times here in the US Virgin Islands aka USVI where the weather has been in that Goldilocks zone where it gets cool enough at night 25C/77F) for comfortable sleeping and comfortably hot (30-32C/88-90F) during the day. The easterly Trade Winds are blowing about 15 knots most of the time, sometimes dying down to 5 and sometimes gusting over 25 kts when we are out in the channels when on the move and the water is a consistent 27C/81F. Hard to ask for much better and easy to understand why this area and the whole Caribbean is so popular at this time of year.
It was Christine’s birthday on the 15th and our wedding anniversary on the 21st so we treated ourselves to some time in places like this idyllic beach in Honeymoon Bay. This was a particularly special treat for Christine as she had spent lots of time anchored here in Honeymoon Bay on her sailboat Sunrise which she and her husband Jim had built and then chartered for several years out of the USVI in the 80’s and then again in the 90’s with Tim aboard.
The far end of the beach you can see in the photo above had a small bar where everyone was hanging out but to our delight we found this old wooden picnic table at the other end of the beach and enjoyed an extended B’day lunch all to ourselves. Then we moved back to Brewers Bay which is tucked in behind the extended runway of the St. Thomas airport creating the ideal breakwater to keep us well protected from the swell. The runway is the length of rocks you can see in the background here. Brewers Bay is is part of the University of the Virgin Islands UVI so the beach is part of a park area of the campus and is a very peaceful spot being on the far western side of the island with every little traffic or population. While in Brewers Bay we had another terrific treat in the form of a visit with a high school friend of my daughter Lia who has been living and working here in USVI for over 20 years. She reached out to us when she read that we were coming here and came out to spend an afternoon with us aboard Möbius. Trish was a very impressive young lady and we all thoroughly enjoyed our conversations about times old and new. Thanks Trish! Brewers Bay was also the perfect spot for us to wait the last few days before our Grandson Liam (7) and Christine’s son Tim and wife Ashley flew in from Florida. I took Christine ashore the day they arrived and she walked over to the airport to meet them. If you look closely at this photo (click to enlarge) you’ll see what I mean when I say that while I was back on Möbius I could also watch their plane come in and land right beside me! At last! We have a real pirate aboard and a very modern one who also a space pirate as well apparently. Here is a map of the routes we took with Liam and family. Brewers Bay on St. Thomas Island over on the far Left where we started and Francis Bay on neighboring St. James Island over on the far Right where we ended up. With no time zone change and a relatively short flight from Ft. Lauderdale to St. Thomas everyone got a good night sleep aboard Möbius and next morning we headed out on our first trip seen in Red on the map here. We stopped and anchored across from Crown Bay marina which as you can see here is also beside one of several cruise ship ports here on St. Thomas. Christine took Tim ashore so they could do the grocery shopping for the rest of their visit. Then we continued on to Francis Bay which is another spot that Christine and Tim had been to when Tim was a young boy aboard Sunrise. It was a real treat for Tim to be able to show Ashley and Liam this part of the world where he spent several years when he was about Liam’s age. Hard not to have a good time on secluded beaches like this! And watching sunsets from the aft deck. Although you probably can’t top the ultimate combo of a dog, an iPad, Mac’n Cheese and Goldfish! At least for a seven year old. We spent two very fun days and nights anchored in Francis Bay doing what one of the big motor yachts beside us we called “Chillaxing”. Everyone got time to swim, snorkel and suntan and had fun doing a whole lot of nothing. Just what vacations are for. Much to Liam’s delight, Christine got the drone out and showed Tim how to fly it off the foredeck of Möbius and they were able to get some super aerial shots just before sunset. On Saturday we pulled up the anchor and headed back over to St. Thomas Island to our next anchorage in Christmas Cove, the Green route you can see in the map above. In spite of this being the USVI Yacht Race weekend, there are not too many boats on in the bays. Christmas Cove is particularly well known as being the home for the famous Pizza Pi boat Tim & Ashley treated us all to Pizza Pi last night. Thanks Tim & Ashley! No surprise that pizza was also a big hit with Liam in particular and a fun way for us to spend our last night together.
As I type up this blog post, Christine is ashore taking Liam, Tim & Ashley back to the airport as sadly their time with us here is up and they have to fly back to Ft. Lauderdale later this afternoon. Christine rented a car so she could take them on a bit of a tour of St. Thomas and she took them up to Mountain Top overlooking Megan’s Bay on the North coast of St. Thomas. As you can see, it was a great day with an incredible view of all the surrounding islands in the background.
Safe trip home Tim, Ashely and Liam. Can’t wait for our next time together.
That’s a wrap for now folks.
Next week we have our good friends Sue & Bob from Victoria BC flying in to spend a week with us and they will probably join us for the passage over to Culebra and Puerto Rico which is where they fly out from. So Christine and I will enjoy a few days to ourselves and getting the Guest Cabin on Möbius ready for our next guests and our next set of passages. I’ll have all the details on that in the next update here and till then our sincere thanks for taking the time to join us on these adventures and hope you’ll be back for the next update in about two weeks as we get another new month started. Yikes! How did that happen so fast??!!
Thanks to Christine’s forecasting with PredictWind we had a super smooth ride all the way from where we left you last week in St. Martin to the US Virgin Islands. We left SXM out the drawbridge on the northern French side (Green on the map) for its 17:00 opening and then anchored in the outside bay to enjoy dinner and the sunset. We got underway about 20:00 for our overnight 103NM passage timed so that we would arrive in USVI after sunrise. Mother Nature not only gifted us with calm flat seas but also a near full moon to light our way. As you can see it was a very exciting white knuckle ride for the crew! Our timing worked out just right as we arrived at the southern coast of St. John Island just after sunrise. We headed for Cruz Bay (Red on map below) to check in at the US Customs & Immigration office and anchored just off shore and launched the Tender to go ashore and do all the checking in formalities. That all went well so we headed back to Möbius to go find a nice spot to anchor for a few days. Found a great little spot in a small protected harbor on the West side of Great St. James Island (Green on map). Crystal clear water, not too many neighbors and the Pizza Pi boat anchored nearby. We stayed there till this morning (Sunday) and then headed over to Yacht Haven marina (dark Blue on map) on the East end of Charlotte Amalie to fill up our water tanks (more on that later). We blend right in with the other boats on the dock don’t you think??!! The dock hand was super helpful and we enjoyed chatting with him as we whiled away the few hours it took to fill up two of our water tanks.
After filling up with fresh water, we motored over to the south end of Hassle Island, which was NO hassle at all, and we we are currently anchored here as I write. (dark Blue on map above) This is the reason we had to go fill up with water today; our watermaker high pressure pump is broken. Both the Low and High pressure pumps were not wanting to work when I went to start using the watermaker after many months sitting dormant but I was able to get the Low Pressure pump working with just a good cleaning. However I wasn’t so lucky with the HP pump as one of the ceramic pistons was broken and so I’ll need to find a way to get some replacement parts sent over. With a water tank capacity of 7300 L/1900 USG and only Christine and I onboard we can go about six months but with family and guests arriving soon and now ability to make our own water, we needed to head over to the marina to get some fresh water and took on about 2500L/660 USG which should be more than enough till I can get the watermaker working in the next month or two. Charlotte Amalie is the “Big City” here on St. Thomas and the airport is not too far away so we will be checking out this area for a good spot to anchor when our Grandson Liam and parents fly in on the 22nd. May head over to check out anchoring spots off of Water Island which Christine has fond memories of in her days chartering on her boat Sunrise when son Tim was just a young boy so fun for him to revisit this and share with his son Liam.
So that brings you up to date with the Good Ship Möbius and thanks so much for taking time to join us on this latest leg of the adventure. Hope you’ll be back for the next update and in the meantime please leave your comments and questions in the Join the Discussion box below.
When we left off in the last update, we had arrived in SXM aka Saint Martin (France) or Sint Marteen (Netherlands) on Valentine’s Day. We anchored for the night on the south side in Simpson Bay (Red on map) and then headed inside to the large “Great Pond” lagoon through the Bridge on the Dutch side, then over through the Causeway Bridge to where we have been anchored ever since.
We are anchored about equidistant from the dinghy docks on the French side to the North and the Dutch side to the south so our location has worked out well and we’ve spent time eXploring SXM by foot and pretty much circumnavigating this fascinating island by rental car. SXM is home to many super yachts as well as being a popular tourist destination so we have been enjoying the largest supply of groceries, marine supplies, postal services we’ve had since arriving on this side of the Atlantic. There is even a Costco-like Cost U Less which was a bit overwhelming for us but we recovered long enough to stock up on wine, meat and groceries. And as if that wasn’t enough, next door was a very large French based Carrefour store as well so Möbius is now very well stocked up. On our drive around the island we eXplored some of the smaller town that dot most of the coastal roads. Up on the North side we found this spot right on the water and enjoyed a good BBQ lunch in the soft trade wind breezes while watching the boats anchored out in front.
Starlink Internet has arrived on Möbius!
As you can see from the smile, the BIG news aboard Möbius is that we have now joined the Starlink community! Christine spent a LOT of time figuring out the rather complex logistics of just how and where to get this satellite based internet solution registered and sent to us and SXM was her choice and it arrived without too much complication on Friday. For those who may not know, Starlink is a relatively new way of getting a pretty fast internet connection via a constellation of Low Earth Orbit LEO satellites launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company. This enables us to now have a solid internet connection from pretty much anywhere we wander and anchor in this awemazing world of ours. For nomadic people like us, this is an eXtremely BIG deal! You might think that such an advanced new solution would be very complex, but you’d be wrong. There are really just two parts, the dish itself, apparently officially called “Dishy”, that goes outside on the supplied mounting stand and then a wireless router which goes inside. Only two wires required to complete the setup, one being the power to the router which for now we are using 240V AC but will change to 24V DC in the future. And then a second cable to connect Dishy to the router. Dishy has a set of motors which automatically move the rectangular dish for the best direction to capture the most satellites streaming in the sky above which is mostly North in our current location. The aluminium stand nicely jammed itself between the handrail and the triangular walls of the front of the Salon roof so I have set Dishy up there for now. We will bring him inside when we are on passages until I decide how and where to mount him more permanently. Given that Möbius will sometimes be at all 360 degrees of the compass, I will be doing a “hack” that will remove or disconnect the alignment motors and allow me to mount the dish flat and solid most likely up on the front of the SkyBridge roof. This solid flat mount should be much more robust mount and long lasting. It turns out that with more and more satellites being launched and with so many nomads like us in RV’s and boats, some bright minds have figured out that because the phase array antennae inside Dishy can pick up satellites in about a 100 degree wide cone above, the dish will work very well when permanently mounted flat. Seems too good to be true but there are enough other nomadic Starlink users who have done this and kindly shared their setup on blogs and YouTube videos, I’m quite sure this will work fine for us. Starlink has also done an eXcellent job of creating an app that allows you to setup your system in a matter of minutes which was also very impressive. Once I had Dishy mounted and temporarily ran the cable back inside the boat to the router, it took less than 5 minutes to have it all working and record this quick speed test that is built into the app. We’ve now been using this new internet connection for the past three days and so far we are both very pleased. The app also has a full set of stats that it records and we can see that there have been some brief outages but so far nothing that we have notices performance wise when using the connection for streaming, Email, web searching, etc. I will track and update our performance, use and modifications to our new Starlink setup and share them in future posts so stay tuned for more.
Meanwhile, back in Wayne’s World….
Much less exciting update is that I continue to make progress on getting Möbius more and more seaworthy and working my way through the always growing job list. Our Bosch washing machine stopped working part way through its latest cycle and I spent several hours trying to figure out why without much success so far. Unfortunately and like most modern washing machines it seems, they are all now “smart appliances” with everything run by LED touch screens and automated sensors that shut things down as soon as they detect a problem.
All well and good except that once they turn off they won’t turn on again until the problem has been corrected so you can’t do anymore diagnosis. Real smart! Grrrrrrrrrrrr
I’ll take another run at it by removing it from the cabinet which takes time but I suspect this will need to wait till we get to a larger country where I can have better choices and options for assistance.
I spent time this past two weeks working on getting our Maretron N2K View monitoring system reporting more and more info on our main monitors at each helm as well as on our phones and tablets. This past week I was finally able to get some of the key engine data from Mr. Gee converted and sent to our N2K View Maretron system so that we can have things like engine RPM, loads, EGT, oil & water temperature, oil pressure, etc. now configured as new virtual gauges on any screen on the boat. This screen is from another boat but will give you an idea of the kinds of gauges I am creating with the N2K View program. It is slow and tedious work, in part because I’m needing to figure out how this process all works and getting all the senders and gauges in synch and talking nicely to each other so I spend a LOT of time staring at fun screens like this, but I am making progress however slowly and should have all of Mr. Gee’s data on these screens by next week.
Solar Panel Roof Update
As many of you know we mounted 8 of our 14 320Wh solar panels on top of the aluminium frame of the SkyBridge roof which has worked out very well. This shot a few minutes ago in the late afternoon so there is some shading on the rear panels from the overhead arch with the Radar and other antennae on it which reduces the output, but we have much more solar power production than we need so very happy with the overall performance. Here is the graph of solar performance for the past 7 days. The solar output is regulated by the MPPT charge controllers as the batteries charge and tapers off till they are fully charged and then stops charging so there is much more solar capacity than we use each 24 hour day and typically our batteries are back to 100% by noon. Looking up from inside the SkyBridge you can see how the solar panels have been attached directly to the AL frames using adhesive/sealant to form the roof itself. The white undersides with a bit of light coming through keeps things very bright but shaded. Unfortunately the sealant/adhesive that was used was not the correct UV resistant required along the ridge line which is fully exposed to the sun and was starting to break down and we had two small leaks inside the SkyBridge in heavy rains. The ridge is the only point of attachment that is exposed to UV as all the other surfaces are between the bottom of the AL frames of each solar panel and the 200mm wide AL roof frames underneath so the majority of the seal was fine. Using a putty knife and box cutter blade I was able to remove all the old sealant along the ridge line joints, clean them all with acetone and then mask them off. I purchased some 3M 5200 which has eXcellent UV resistance in my past experience with it and was able to inject it deep into the crevice running along the ridge where the two solar panel frames butted at a slight angle. Just for added insurance, I masked off the glass about 5mm past the AL frames to add an extra layer of sealant so I think this should now be fully sealed for many years to come.
St. Thomas here we come!
My Weather Wonderwoman aka Captain Christine tells me that there is an eXcellent weather window on Tuesday March 7th and so if the forecasts hold we will pull up the anchor and head out through the French side bridge to the north of us, Green on the map here. This should be a relatively short passage of about 110 nautical miles, 200km/125 miles, and we’ll make this a night passage so that we arrive in St. Thomas with good light the next morning for navigating and anchoring. As you can see from this larger scale map of the whole Caribbean, we will now be turning Westward for the next few passages as we make our way over to the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and then likely continue NW to eXplore the Bahama islands.
Kling a ling a ling
Most excitingly though, we are heading for St. Thomas because our 7 year old Grandson Liam is flying there along with his Mom & Dad aka Tim & Ashley on March 22nd for their first time aboard Möbius! We will have a few weeks to get well setup probably around the East end of St. Thomas and figure out how everything works there so we can maximize the precious time we have with our family.
I will bring you the details of our passage over to St. Thomas in the next update and thanks so much for taking the time to join us once again here as our adventures continue.